Five Tips for Receiving Feedback

There is a lot of emphasis in management and leadership development programs on how to give good feedback – but very little focus on the art of receiving it well. A colleague of mine once said, “Give me some feedback, but don’t get any on me.” Let’s face it, not many of us like to receive feedback, especially when it sounds negative. But feedback is a key tool for individual and organizational growth. As Einstein is supposed to have said, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Without feedback, you are more likely to continue in the same patterns and less likely to make positive changes.

People speaking to one another behind fact sheets

Start your feedback journey by following five guidelines:

When receiving feedback:

1) Ask for it! Your colleagues may not know you would welcome it.

2) Guide it. Be specific about what you want the feedback about.

3) Replace defensiveness with curiosity. Put on your “detective hat” for the time being. You could say, “That’s interesting, tell me more,” or ask for specific examples and suggestions for improvement.

4) Keep what is useful; discard the rest. You don’t have to act on all of the feedback. Listen to it, and try out what works best for you.

5) Say thank you! It took effort and perhaps courage for the other person to give you the feedback.


Let’s try a scenario together: You have just finished a presentation and your manager was in the room. You want feedback, but you don’t want to seem unsure of yourself. How might you ask your manager for feedback in a way that will produce a positive result, whatever the content of the feedback might be?

Please share your ideas in the comment section.

Contributed by,

B. Kim Barnes

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